Course Content
This session will introduce students to the course and through the use of exercises promote general discussion encouraging the students to begin to get to know each other. The session will cover confidentiality, participation, commitment and a general overview of the course. 
What is Recovery?
The aim of this session is to explore the development of the recovery approach in mental health and to examine key concepts in recovery and a range of factors that support recovery.
Personal Recovery
The aim of this session is to explore personal experience of mental health problems and recovery and consider how the key concepts and factors supporting recovery (covered in session 2) have impacted on your own story of recovery.
What is Peer Support?
Now that we have been introduced to recovery characteristics and developed an understanding of the things that can help and hinder that process, we are going to consider the role the role of peer support in more detail. Firstly, we will examine what we mean by a peer and we will then go on to consider the relationship between peer support and recovery.
The Peer Relationship
In this session we will examine in more detail the processes and practices of establishing peer relationships. We will build on our earlier learning about the role of mutuality and empowerment in peer relationships. There will be a focus on issues of power, choice and control in peer relationships.
Review and Evaluation
The aim of this session is to give candidates the opportunity to reflect on learning to date; provide support and feedback on the assessment task and to review the content to date. The first assessment task is a written assignment in essay format where students consider their personal recovery story in relation to the recovery approach and the role of peer support.
Use of Language and Communications
As peer supporters, the language we use and how we communicate are key to building good connections with the people we are supporting. This session will focus on how we use the language of recovery and our wider communication skills in the peer relationship. The language of recovery is designed to bring out the strengths and abilities of those in recovery. The aim of this session is to introduce candidates to elements of effective communication, including verbal and non-verbal communication, active listening and the use of recovery language, and to enable them to use these to foster an effective peer support relationship.
Using Your Experiences Effectively
One of the most effective ways to explain recovery to others is by people sharing their experiences. It brings to life the reality of recovery. This session builds on previous learning to enable peer supporters to develop their skills and experience in sharing their experiences in ways that are helpful. This sharing is often described as intentional.
Surviving and Thriving
The aim of this session is to look at approaches to working with people which focus on their strengths and capabilities and on building resilience. This will include examining the ways in which strengths based approach might validate and reframe experience and how it uses role modelling and hope to help individuals build resilience. Strengths based approaches are at the heart of peer support practice.
Positive Risk Taking and Boundaries
The aim of this session is to examine the implications of formalised peer support, encouraging students to examine the related concepts of boundaries, role tension and working with risk. The session will introduce the concept of positive risk taking and the approaches that can be used to help in this process. This will include examining the balance between risk and responsibility in the peer relationship. As part of this, students will deal with the difficult topics of trauma, suicidality and risk.
Review and Evaluation
The aim of this session is to give candidates time to review and evaluate the course and their experience of it, and to finish off any outstanding work. it is an opportunity to reflect on learning, discuss experiences and discuss the final assignment.
Useful Resources
Peer Support Training
About Lesson

Tthis session begin with a personal story of recovery. Read the following personal story, as featured on the National Alliance on Mental Illness website:


“When I was 26 years old, my symptoms of mental illness caused many problems for me. I started to have emotional problems for the first time and was hospitalized in Texas. One of my darkest moments was when I was having a lot of fear and feeling angry about life. In addition, not getting along with family and friends was causing problems for me in my life. I was not able to hold a job and was having dealings with the police. I felt as if I had a void in my life and nowhere to go. Not being able to function in society was a problem for me. These are some of the feelings I was experiencing at my first hospitalization.


Having acceptance of my mental illness means taking charge of my life and moving forward. This has played a big part in my recovery. I started to have acceptance of my mental illness after giving myself credit for my strengths and weaknesses and accepting my limitations. Also, believing that I have something to offer in society and doing positive, healthy things in my life. Not giving up in life has been a positive thing for me. It has helped me to make a lot of progress in my life. In my journey as a Peer Support Specialist and being involved with NAMI has helped me with acceptance. Also, having family, friends, and being a student has very much helped me to accept my mental illness. Staying in treatment and taking my medications has also helped me with acceptance.


It is very important for me to use coping skills that can help me get through a tough day. Having good coping skills for me, means I have a plan in managing my mental illness. There are several coping skills that I use. You can take a hot shower, listen to music, watch television, and keep a balance with your schedule during the week. Medication is also important to me and my treatment. Also, take plenty of breaks when you are doing your school assignments and do not procrastinate in getting your homework done. It’s a good idea to have a good support system to help manage your symptoms and people who can help you with moral support. Also, I make sure to get enough sleep and eat healthy, plus exercise. I want to make sure to keep a balance in my life and have activities to do during the week. It’s been beneficial for me to be attend my support group meetings at NAMI, which has been a big part of my support system. I like facilitating groups and making friends. Basically, pull something out of your toolbox to help you cope better. This helps you cope better when you are having a bad day.


Knowing that hope is the “cornerstone of recovery,” and believing you can have success with your life is critical. Your successes and dreams take on many different directions to arrive at your destination. Success means to me means building upon my strengths and moving forward in my life. Hope means that you believe in yourself and feeling positive never accepting defeat.”


After reading this story, write down some of your thoughts – you might like to consider the following questions as a starting point: 


  • How did it feel to read this recovery story?
  • What does does hearing other people’s recovery stories have on me?
  • Why are personal stories so powerful?
Exercise Files
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